“Idiocracy” is a satirical comedy directed by Mike Judge. The story follows an average military man named Joe Bauers, who is chosen for a suspended animation experiment. However, things go awry, and he wakes up 500 years later to find himself in a future where society has become incredibly dumbed down.
Due to widespread cultural and intellectual decline, the world is populated by people with severely diminished intelligence. Joe, initially an average guy from the past, becomes the smartest person in this future society. He navigates this bizarre world with the help of a street-smart prostitute named Rita.
As the story unfolds, Joe realizes that his intelligence could potentially save the world, and he embarks on a journey to rectify the situation. The film uses humor to critique contemporary society’s direction and the consequences of neglecting intellectual and cultural advancement.
- Introduction to Joe: Joe Bauers, an average military librarian, is selected for a suspended animation experiment alongside Rita, a prostitute. The experiment is supposed to last a year, but it goes awry.
- 500 Years Later: Joe and Rita wake up 500 years in the future. They discover a world where intelligence has plummeted due to cultural decline and rampant consumerism.
- Dumbed-Down Society: Joe realizes he’s now the smartest person alive in this future society. He encounters various absurdities caused by the population’s low intelligence and lack of critical thinking.
- Meeting the President: Joe’s intelligence inadvertently leads to him becoming the President, as his ideas and basic problem-solving abilities seem extraordinary in this society.
- Addressing Problems: Joe attempts to fix the problems plaguing the world, such as crops dying because they’re being watered with an energy drink.
- Rescue Mission: Joe and Rita undertake a mission to rescue Frito Pendejo, a lawyer and Joe’s appointed attorney, who has landed in trouble.
- Realization and Decision: Joe learns that the government’s solution to everything is to ignore problems and hope they disappear. He decides that the only way to fix things is to return to his time.
- Return to the Past: Joe manages to fix the time machine and plans to take Rita back with him to try and prevent the dystopian future from occurring.
- Delayed Release: The film faced distribution issues and was released with minimal marketing in just a few cities, leading to a limited theatrical run in 2006. Its popularity grew significantly later through home media and word-of-mouth.
- Minimal Promotion: Due to a lack of marketing, “Idiocracy” received little promotion from the studio, and its release was quite low-key, contributing to its initial obscurity.
- Fictional Language: The film features a future language, “Frito-ese,” created by the characters’ linguistic degradation over time. It’s a mix of English, Spanish, and various slang terms.
- Cameo Appearances: Luke Wilson and Maya Rudolph starred in the movie, but it also featured several cameo appearances, including Thomas Haden Church as a prosecutor and Justin Long as a doctor.
- Production Challenges: The film’s production faced budget constraints and other challenges, leading to some scenes being cut or altered from the original script.
- Set Design: The dystopian future in “Idiocracy” was portrayed using real-life locations in Los Angeles, Texas, and other areas. The settings were altered and dressed to depict a degraded society.
- Inspired by Commercials: Director Mike Judge was inspired to create the film after noticing a trend in advertising and feeling that it was indicative of a cultural decline. The story evolved from a concept developed for a satirical television commercial.
- Cult Following: Despite its initial limited release, “Idiocracy” gained a strong cult following over the years, with many fans appreciating its satirical take on society’s direction.
- Predictive Elements: Some elements of the movie, like the prevalence of a reality TV star becoming president and the absurdity of certain cultural trends, were considered by some as oddly prescient in the context of later societal developments.
- DVD Easter Eggs: The DVD release contained hidden “easter eggs,” including additional scenes and behind-the-scenes footage, adding value for fans seeking more content beyond the theatrical release.
Things it got Right
“Idiocracy” is a satirical movie that exaggerated certain societal trends for comedic effect. While it wasn’t intended as a precise prediction of the future, some elements in the film seem to echo certain developments or behaviors seen in society after its release:
- Reality TV and Celebrity Culture: The film depicted a society heavily influenced by reality TV and a culture obsessed with celebrity figures. This portrayal bears some resemblance to the rise of reality TV shows and the increasing fascination with celebrity culture in the years following the movie’s release.
- Commercialization and Branding: “Idiocracy” heavily satirized the overwhelming presence of branding and commercialization in everyday life. This aligns with the ongoing trend of aggressive marketing strategies and the pervasive nature of brands in modern society.
- Political Commentary: The movie indirectly comments on societal attitudes toward governance and problem-solving, depicting a future where political decisions are shortsighted. While exaggerated, it resonates with some discussions about political short-termism in certain contexts.
- Cultural Simplification: There are parallels between the film’s portrayal of a simplified culture and concerns about a potential decline in intellectual discourse and the quality of certain media forms.
- Consumerism and Immediate Gratification: The exaggerated consumer culture in the film mirrors concerns about a society focused on immediate gratification and materialistic pursuits, albeit taken to an extreme in the movie.
- Attention Span and Information Overload: The film’s portrayal of a society with diminished attention spans and an overload of information reflects ongoing discussions about the impact of the digital age on attention spans and information consumption habits.
- Celebrity Political Figures: While the film exaggerated this aspect, the portrayal of a celebrity becoming president echoes the emergence of celebrities running for political office or gaining significant attention in politics.
- Language Evolution and Slang: “Idiocracy” showcased a future where language had evolved into a simplified form. While not as extreme, there are ongoing discussions about the evolution of language, including the impact of slang and informal communication on linguistic norms.
- Health and Nutrition Trends: The movie exaggerated the trend of unhealthy eating habits and the prevalence of junk food. This echoes concerns about rising obesity rates and the availability of unhealthy food options in modern society.
- Media Influence and Manipulation: The film hinted at the influence of media on public opinion and behavior. This resonates with ongoing debates about media manipulation, fake news, and the shaping of public perceptions through various media channels.
It’s important to note that while “Idiocracy” touches on these themes, its portrayal is intentionally extreme and satirical. The parallels between the film and real-world developments are not direct predictions but rather reflections or exaggerations of certain societal trends and concerns.